Facebook-inspired funding heats up

Social network software maker Slide Inc said on Friday it had closed a $50 million institutional financing round, marking the rising valuations of start-ups riding fast-growing Facebook's wave of popularity.

Slide made some of the hottest programs running on Facebook and News Corp's MySpace, including media-sharing applications Slide Shows, Top Friends, SuperPoke! and FunWall.

Max Levchin, its Ukranian-born and Chicago-raised founder, declined to name the investors. But sources close to the deal said they were Fidelity Investments and T Rowe Price.

The round is nearly 10 times the size of the median round of $5.18 million for Web 2.0 firms in the first half of 2007, according to Dow Jones investment tracking unit VentureOne.

This follows the roughly $500 million recently raised by Facebook from Microsoft Corp and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, giving it an implied $15 billion valuation.

Slide, incorporated in 2005, was originally self-funded by Levchin, 32, who co-founded online payments company PayPal a decade ago. He later took funding from Peter Thiel, the other founder of PayPal, which eBay Inc bought in 2002.

Subsequent funding for San Francisco-based Slide was provided by leading Silicon Valley venture capitalists Mayfield Fund, former Nokia venture arm BlueRun Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Founders Fund, Thiel's venture fund.

These earlier rounds of funding totaled in the "low tens of millions of dollars," one of the sources said.

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